During an Ask Me Anything session on Instagram, someone asked what the difference is between transparency and gossiping. I believe that if you are sharing something about someone else’s life, that isn’t transparency, but the way you’re divulging that information matters. Instead of wondering if we’re gossiping, we should instead ask ourselves if we're being malicious, or sharing more than we need to.
Gossiping is a way that some of us connect with others. There are relationships based entirely around gossiping. Our culture feeds curiosity and even preoccupation with the lives of others. We take an interest in how things are going in someone else’s life, in part because it acts as a measuring stick for how well we’re doing.
While gossiping may not always be malicious, it can still be harmful. When you are talking about someone you love and what you are saying could damage your relationship with them, the gossip has crossed a line. If you are spreading rumors, or making up stories about people that you know are untrue, that is the type of gossip that is damaging.
If we’re having a conversation about a mutual friend who is pregnant and we start offering our opinions about her baby shower colors, I wouldn’t call that gossip. However, if instead we start talking about how we hate her child’s father and start listing all of his missteps from over the years, we’ve crossed into gossiping. We can process information together without gossiping about people we care about.
Sometimes we fall into gossiping because we think we’re giving someone a “heads up,” about someone they’ve never even met, when really, we should allow space for people to form their own opinions. Just because we find certain behaviors problematic or annoying doesn’t mean they’ll be an issue for someone else.
What makes gossip harmful is not that we are talking about the people in our lives, it’s how we’re talking about them. When you are sharing information about someone else’s life, make sure you are sharing with safe people who can be trusted. Be clear on your intentions and why you’re sharing what you’re sharing.
Do you use gossiping as a way to connect with people?
What are your intentions when you share gossip?
Feeling Socially Rusty? Try a Little Light Gossiping, by Mandy Brownholtz in The New York Times.
6 Healthy Videoconferencing Habits to Prevent Zoom Fatigue, by Marlynn Wei, M.D., J.D., in Psychology Today.
Euphoria. Watching how it feels to be a teenager is so interesting and relatable. There is something very intense about coming into yourself, learning who you are, and trying out all of these different ways of being along the way. It is also interesting to see how much kids are impacted by what is going on in their environment. It’s a really good show to watch. You can watch all of the seasons on HBO.
Adult Children of Divorce Confront Their Parents on The Oprah Winfrey Show podcast. In this episode they discussed how adult children still have a lot of issues with their parents being divorced. Their dream of a certain kind of household, or life with their parents is gone. The stories that were shared were really powerful. You can listen to it on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you stream podcasts.
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